Vauxhall has launched a new ecoFLEX version of its Astra compact five door hatch which emits just 99g/km of CO2 and achieves an average combined fuel consumption of 76.3mpg.
With revised aerodynamics and technology like stop/start and energy recuperation, the Astra comfortably beats its less powerful stablemate the Astra 1.7 CDTi 125PS by a massive 17 per cent (that car emits 119g/km of CO2), as well as the least polluting Ford Focus (109g/km).
All this means a total exemption from Transport for London’s Congestion Charge, as well as zero Vehicle Excise Duty (that’s car tax, or what Road Fund Licence is now known as); inclusion in the lowest 13 per cent Benefit in Kind tax band; and 100 per cent capital allowance for businesses.
The 1.7 CDTi diesel engine, with a power out of 130PS, gets a new engine management system enabling a lower compression ratio, a new fuel injection system and a new variable geometry turbocharger. Vauxhall engineers have also worked at reducing frictional losses with the piston rings, tappets and piston pins, while sensors in the low-pressure glow plugs enable more accurate combustion control. To help the engine reach its operating temperature quickly from cold – normally a highly inefficient phase – an oil-cooler bypass has been introduced.
A shift-indicator between the speedometer and rev-counter shows drivers the best time to change up through the low friction six speed gearbox, while a graphic-assist function helps adopt the most fuel-efficient driving style. A stop/start system shuts down the engine when neutral is engaged and the clutch pedal released, starting again when first is selected and the clutch lifted.
For the first time on any ecoFLEX model, the Astra also gets a F1 KERS-like system which recovers energy lost when coasting or braking to the battery, enabling the alternator to be shut down when not required (no power boost though). The air condition unit is only driven when needed and LED daytime running lights also save energy compared to filament type bulbs.
Aerodynamic tweaks include a reduced ride height (by 12mm) and an active shutter in the readiator grill which reacts to different speeds, closing as the car gets faster to flow air over the grill rather than through it (recently also introduced on the new Focus). Lower rolling resistence tyres also help the car move further with less energy.
The Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX 1.7 CDTi 130PS, to give its full title, goes on sale “soon” and will come in Exclusiv, SE and SRi trims, with a price to be announced shortly — expect it to be just below £20,000.